The Sensex opened at 6,655.78, lower than Mondays close of 6,656.69. It rose marginally before selling pressure pulled it down to a low of 6,520.15. The index dropped below the 6,600-mark at around 1 pm and traded below that psychological mark for the rest of the session before falling 1.82% by the end of the day.
Analysts say the markets are into panic selling after falling from record levels. Hitesh Seth, technical analyst at Prabhudas Liladher, said: Investors are booking profits and many have pressed the panic button. That the financial year is nearing completion is acting as a catalyst.
Although selling activity was witnessed at most counters, sectors like banking, PSU, auto and metal stocks were the worst-hit. The BSE Metal underperformed all other sectoral indices, moving down a whopping 235.83 points to end at 6,573.58. The index had crossed the 7,000-mark on March 16. SAIL (down 4.08% at Rs 65.8), Essar Steel (down 4.96% at Rs 60.35), Tata Steel (down 3.16% at Rs 417.4) all ended with heavy losses.
Banking stocks also ended in the negative territory. While ICICI Bank was down by 3.28% to Rs 395.2, State Bank of India shed 4.08% at Rs 693. HDFC Bank, Andhra Bank, Bank of India, Union Bank and UTI Bank ended the day in the red.
Auto stocks were also at the receiving end as reports of a fuel price hike led to a fall in investor interest.